Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Spread or turned out.
  • adj. Clumsy or clumsily formed; awkward.
  • n. Architecture An oblique angle or bevel given to the sides of an opening in a wall so that the opening is wider on one side of the wall than on the other.
  • transitive v. To spread (the limbs, for example) out or apart, especially clumsily.
  • transitive v. To make slanting or sloping; bevel.
  • transitive v. To dislocate (a bone). Used of an animal.
  • intransitive v. To be spread out or apart.
  • intransitive v. To slant or slope.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To display; to spread.
  • v. To dislocate, as a shoulder bone.
  • v. To spay; to castrate.
  • v. To turn on one side; to render oblique; to slope or slant, as the side of a door, window, etc.
  • adj. Displayed; spread out; turned outward; hence, flat; ungainly; as, splay shoulders.
  • n. A slope or bevel, especially of the sides of a door or window, by which the opening is made larger at one face of the wall than at the other, or larger at each of the faces than it is between them.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Displayed; spread out; turned outward; hence, flat; ungainly.
  • adj. A slope or bevel, especially of the sides of a door or window, by which the opening is made larged at one face of the wall than at the other, or larger at each of the faces than it is between them.
  • transitive v. To display; to spread.
  • transitive v. To dislocate, as a shoulder bone.
  • transitive v. To spay; to castrate.
  • transitive v. To turn on one side; to render oblique; to slope or slant, as the side of a door, window, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To display; unfold; spread out; hence, to cut up; carve: as, to splay a fish.
  • To dislocate, as a horse's shoulder.
  • In architecture, to slope; form with an oblique angle, as the jambs or sides of a window. See the noun.
  • Spread or spreading out; wide and flat; turned outward; hence, clumsy; awkward. See splay-foot, splay-mouth.
  • Same as spay.
  • In cooperage, to form (a barrel) by drawing it together at the ends.
  • n. Spread; flare.
  • n. In architecture, a sloped surface, or a surface which makes an oblique angle with another, as when the opening through a wall for a door or window widens from the position of the door or window proper toward the face of the wall. A large chamfer is called a splay.
  • n. In fortification, the outward widening of an embrasure from the mouth toward the exterior of the parapet. See embrasure.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. spread open or apart
  • n. an outward bevel around a door or window that makes it seem larger
  • v. turn outward
  • adj. turned outward in an ungainly manner
  • v. move out of position

Etymologies

From Middle English splayen, to spread out, short for displayen; see display.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Middle English, an abbreviated form of display. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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  • Also a type of tree, which I remember fondly.

    October 9, 2007

  • I arose, the man hemming up for a speech, rising and beginning to set his splay feet...

    October 9, 2007